Retirement has increased my concern that for the past thirty years, my weight gain has mirrored the national average. Now that I no longer get paid to walk seven to ten miles per day while lugging up to thirty pounds of processed trees, I feel the threat of increasing waist and hips each morning as I struggle into my favorite jeans. I am determined to halt this dreadful accumulation before it does serious damage to my health.
It is interesting to note that during that same thirty year period, the North Pole has lost thirty percent of its ice cap. For me the weight has been a slow accrual. One pound per year doesn’t seem like much, till you look back and add up the damage. Same for the loss of the world’s cyrosphere…or snow and water accumulation. That this planet is undergoing a phenomenal change is undeniably apparent. Satellite images, gazing down upon earth, clearly document an abrupt loss of snow and ice. In addition to loss of general mass, what is left of the cryosphere is now 40% thinner than it was 40 years ago.
We are beyond pointing fingers and arguing over who is to blame for weight gain or ice loss. We are now dealing with clear and present danger. On a personal level, we risk becoming a nation of clogged arteries and diabetics who need wheeled devices to ambulate from the bed to the bathroom. As inhabitants of Planet Earth, we risk altering our environment beyond our own capacity to evolve along with the changes.
For over four billion years, this round ball of water, atmosphere, minerals, metals, flora and fauna, has been evolving and changing. Archaebacteria and cyanobacteria are the ancestors of life as we know it. Bacteria were the elements needed for life to evolve. Every addition to this planet has had an effect, like the ripples of a pebble tossed into a pond, rippling the water outward away from the point of impact, to the banks that hold the water, and back again. Some minute adjustment occured to allow each new life form to take the stage. And with the arrival of each new life form, came adaptations to everything and everyone around it. Each being exists only by the existence of another being.
The earth is a complex organism, living, breathing, adapting, and reinventing itself. One small example is “the corals that are born from the marriage of algae and shells. Coral reefs become home to plants and fish. The equilibrium of every ocean depends on corals.” And the equilibrium of all that lives on land corresponds in some way to the equilibrium of the oceans. It is a delicate harmony. But where the earth has been gently evolving for four billion years, humans have been tinkering with that balance for a mere 200,000 years. Our impact has escalated exponentially.
By sheer weight of numbers, humans increase their impact. Since 1950, world population has nearly tripled. That volume of humanity strains the balance of resources needed to sustain it. We have used our incredible ability to adapt, to learn, to explore, and to experiment, to mold the planet and the space around it to better suit our needs. No longer does each family unit produce the food and shelter it needs. Now we concentrate our efforts, we specialize, we live in thick clots of humanity, producing waste and consuming prodigiously.
The more creative we are, the more resources we exploit. We have unbalanced the balanced organism. We now separate ourselves into the haves and the dream-of-havings. Now twenty percent of world’s population consumes eighty percent of planet’s natural resources. Half of the world’s wealth belongs to the richest two percent of the world’s population. Ironically half of the world’s poor live in resource rich countries.
We have become a parasite that sucks the life from its host. We need to return to a symbiotic relationship with our planet. We need to slow our impact enough to give homo sapiens time to adapt to the changes we’ve forced on our host organism. Just as I need to weigh the cost, the benefit, and the pleasure of each morsel I devour in order to halt my expanding waistline, I also need to weigh the cost, the benefit, and the pleasure of each resource I reach for as I live my comfortable life. We all need to work together to decrease our impact on the natural resources we take for granted.
Two videos have impacted me enormously, She’s Beautiful which I already shared in my last post and one that was suggested to me by one of my kind, spiritually in-tune, and worldly readers, SoulDipper. The documentary “Home,” by Yann Arthus Bertrand and narrated by Glenn Close, makes the destruction of a planet as visually appealing and as visually disturbing as would be the filmed saga of a sperm and an egg joining, growing, developing, and then passing through the birth canal to become one more human being on our already crowded planet. I warn you, this one is a full length documentary. But it is exquisitely photographed and edited and it is filled with facts even more compelling than those I’ve used to make my point here.
For me the challenge after viewing these videos is to raise myself above the morass of hopelessness that inevitably follows. I feel hollow and hypocritical in the small ways that I try to rein in my contribution to the rape of our host. But if we can all at least be mindful of the resources we use, perhaps this will lead us to invent new ways of approaching life, new ways of living lighter and smaller.
I’m interested in how my readers feel about these issues. What is your planetary diet strategy? How do you go about reducing the weight of your being?